Daryl Morey

Post-Deadline Notes: Rockets, Spurs, Favors, Portis

The Rockets’ latest moves prior to the trade deadline were mainly designed to open up a roster spot and find another piece on the buyout market, GM Daryl Morey told the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen (Twitter link). The Rockets also wanted to “create flexibility now and down the road,” Morey said.

The Rockets were involved in a three-way deal with the Kings and Cavaliers in which they shipped out Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss and acquired Iman Shumpert, Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin. They soon traded Stauskas and Baldwin to the Pacers and dealt James Ennis to the Sixers without receiving any players in return.

We have more on potential moves from around the league:

  • The Spurs will be searching for a wing player via the buyout market, Jabari Young of The Athletic tweets. They have mainly relied on journeymen Marco BelinelliQuincy Pondexter and Dante Cunningham as backups to leading scorer DeMar DeRozan and Bryn Forbes.
  • Power forward Derrick Favors is glad he wasn’t traded by the Jazz, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Favors was reportedly part of the package Utah offered to Memphis in its failed attempt to acquire point guard Mike Conley. He is likely to be a free agent this summer since his $16.9MM salary for next season is not guaranteed unless he remains on the roster through July 6th. “I’m happy I’m still here,” he said. “I’m glad this is over, and now I can focus on basketball.”
  • Bulls players were sad to see power forward Bobby Portis go to the Wizards, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Portis was part of the package Chicago shipped to Washington for forward Otto Porter Jr. Though Portis had a much-publicized altercation with former teammate Nikola Mirotic early last season, he was regarded as an emotional leader by the players on the current roster. “Bobby’s pretty much the main glue of the team, a big-time voice,” shooting guard Zach LaVine said. “It (stinks). He’s one of my best friends on the team.”

Southwest Notes: Rockets, The Brothers Gasol, Introduction Videos

More often than not, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey finds a trade partner ahead of the annual deadline. Although it didn’t happen last year, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes that the team is confident something will transpire this time around.

While the mid-season additions of Austin Rivers and Kenneth Faried have impacted the Rockets’ list of needs, the club could still benefit from making a move for a versatile defender with three-point range.

Morey is said to be extremely active in talks so far this year and the Rockets even offered four first-round picks for Jimmy Butler prior to his trade to the Sixers.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets care not for your factoid about James Harden scoring 304 consecutive unassisted points, Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle writes. Perhaps more impressively, Mike D’Antoni has coached the two players with the next highest streaks as well (Chris Paul and Steve Nash).
  • In 2008, the Grizzlies packaged up star big man Pau Gasol and sent him off to the Lakers in exchange for Marc Gasol and a pair of first-round picks. Over a decade later, the brothers could theoretically be swapped again. While Marc has established himself as a franchise staple, the soon-to-be rebuilding Grizz are said to be open to offers for him. “There’s a part of me that would like that,” Marc told David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He still has a place here.
  • Wednesday night brought a brief moment of levity for a fan base that’s been kicked in the pants repeatedly this week when the Pelicans removed Anthony Davis from the introduction video that plays for fans at the Smoothie King Center, Bleacher Report tweets.

Southwest Rumors: Nowitzki, Noah, Gordon, Anthony

Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki will not make his season debut Saturday against the Rockets but he is inching closer to his return, Dwain Price of the team’s website reports. Nowitzki, who underwent ankle surgery during the spring and suffered a setback in September, participated in practice on Friday. “He’s doing well. You see him down there. He’s playing 3-on-3 and getting better all the time,” said coach Rick Carlisle, who assured the media he won’t play this weekend.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • The addition of Joakim Noah has impacted several other Grizzlies players, as Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian notes in his latest mailbag. JaMychal Green, who becomes an unrestricted free agent, might be shopped if the franchise decides it won’t try to re-sign him. It also clouds the future of Ivan Rabb, a second-round pick in 2017, within the organization. Rabb has thrived in the G League but isn’t skilled enough or physical enough at the NBA level, Herrington opines. Noah’s presence should also reduce Marc Gasol‘s workload, Herrington adds.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon admits this season has been a shock to the system for him and his teammates, as he told Kelly Iko of The Athletic. He also insinuated that coach Mike D’Antoni has made some mistakes with his personnel. “I’m just not having fun man,” Gordon said. “I’m just not. This (stinks). Even the times where I have good games. We’re just not using some guys the right way. Are we gonna make the right sacrifices? Do we have the right attitude? Last year was the best year I’ve ever had being a part of a team. We just never had a bad moment.”
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey blames himself for the Carmelo Anthony signing. Morey made the remarks during a Tom Haberstroh podcast (hat tip to Sportando). “It really is mostly on me, honestly,” Morey said. “I saw the fit there and really didn’t go the way I thought it would. He can still really help a team.”

Sixers Notes: Morey, Offseason Changes, Fultz

When a July report indicated that the Sixers tried and failed to lure Daryl Morey away from Houston, it appeared that those discussions didn’t go far — Philadelphia reportedly received permission from the Rockets to talk to Morey, but the veteran executive decided to remain in his current job.

According to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com, however, Morey didn’t turn down the Sixers’ advances out of hand. One source close to the process tells Arnovitz that discussions got “pretty far down the road” before Morey elected to stay in Houston.

As the 76ers’ search for a new head of basketball operations continued following their failed bid for Morey, a consensus begin to build that it was important to maintain continuity in the front office, per Arnovitz. That’s one reason why Elton Brand was the eventual choice for the general manager job.

“When you live with these guys over three months, from draft and free agency, you appreciate what we already had,” head coach Brett Brown said, per Arnovitz. “Elton was always going to be a general manager at some point, in some city. And it might as well be here, and it might as well be now.”

According to Arnovitz, multiple league insiders viewed the decision to promote Brand and give him the title of GM (rather than president of basketball operations) as a “statement of control” by Sixers ownership — if they get cold feet on Brand down the road, they could always bring in a veteran executive above him. For now though, he’s running the show in Philadelphia.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Arnovitz’s feature on the Sixers, which is worth checking out in full, also includes details on how Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are shaping the franchise’s culture and identity, and the lessons Embiid was taught by Tim Duncan during his rookie year in 2014/15.
  • Replacing Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli on the second unit will be one of Brown’s biggest challenges this season, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. In 23 games after that duo was acquired in February, the second unit averaged 41.6 PPG and improved its three-point percentage from 32.2% to 35.2%. Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler, acquired in trades this summer, are projected to replace them in the rotation but both are batting injuries, Murphy adds.
  • Late first-rounder Landry Shamet had a productive preseason and that opens up more options for the second unit, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Shamet, a 6’5” point guard, had a pair of double-digit games while mostly working alongside J.J. Redick. “I think it went about as well as it could have,” Shamet told Todd. “I didn’t surprise myself, that’s kind of the way I look at it.”
  • Markelle Fultz will start the season opener and Redick will come off the bench, Jon Johnson of KYW 1060 Philadelphia tweets. The 2017 top overall pick will be starting for the first time. Fultz only appeared in 14 regular season and three postseason games as a rookie. Redick, who averaged a career-best 17.1 PPG last season, hasn’t come off the bench in a regular season game since the 2013/14 season.

(Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.)

Zanik, Rosas Receive Second Interviews For Sixers’ Post

Jazz assistant GM Justin Zanik and Rockets VP Gersson Rosas have earned second interviews for the Sixers’ GM opening, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

Philadelphia’s ownership group dined with Zanik on Sunday and will do the same with Rosas on Monday. The ownership group will also hold second interviews with internal candidates on Thursday and Friday, Pompey adds in another tweet. The news was confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Warriors assistant GM and director of player personnel Larry Harris was also recently interviewed for the vacancy, though there’s no indication if he’ll receive another interview.

Some of the internal candidates for the job who were reportedly interviewed this month include former Sixers player Elton Brand, Marc Eversley, Ned Cohen and Alex Rucker.

The organization has been operating without a GM since Bryan Colangelo departed in June amid charges of releasing sensitive information on Twitter.

The Sixers initially targeted big-name NBA GMs and presidents like Rockets GM Daryl Morey, but have since cast a wider net, focusing more on executives who would view the Philadelphia job as a promotion rather than a lateral move.

Rockets Notes: Morey, Knight, Chriss, Ceiling

GM Daryl Morey believes both Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss will fit nicely into the Rockets‘ system, as Mark Berman of Fox26 passes along via Twitter.

“Typical kind of transaction we try to do. They can be optimized in our system with Coach [Mike] D’Antoni,Morey said of the two incoming players. We wrote about how Chriss could give the franchise a major piece to use on the trade market earlier today.

Here’s more from Houston:

  • Morey was in the Bahamas to see the many of the Rockets‘ players work out together, Berman adds in a separate tweet. “I was super-impressed…I think it’s really critical. The players put it all together themselves,” Morey said.
  • Some on the Rockets believe the team is better this season than the 65-win juggernaut that made it to the Western Conference Finals, Morey tells Berman (separate tweet). “Mike’s the most confident of all, which I love. Usually coaches are sandbagging, but Mike feels like we’ve got a better team this year that last year. So we’re very excited,” Morey said.
  • The Rockets sit at No. 3 in ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, an index led by Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton projecting how NBA teams will fare over the next three years. Houston has the second-best roster on the scribe’s rankings, though the team’s age and looming tax concerns may put a ceiling on what it can accomplish over the next three seasons.

Rockets In Position To Make Another Move

The Rockets set a franchise record for most wins in a season with 65 victories last year. The team didn’t take home a coveted NBA championship but GM Daryl Morey believes no matter what pinnacles a franchise reaches, there’s always room to improve.

“When you’re trying to win a title, there’s always fine-tuning, you can always get better,” Morey said (via Mark Berman of Fox 26 on Twitter).

Morey hinted that he wouldn’t hesitate to make a major move should a worthwhile opportunity present itself. “We have all of our draft picks going forward. If something presents itself that allows us to make a trade to improve the team we’re not going to hesitate to do that,” Morey explained.

Houston lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency, though they were able to add Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams.

The team also traded away Ryan Anderson, bringing in a former top-10 pick in Marquese Chriss. Chriss, who plateaued during his sophomore campaign with the Suns, is far from a finished product. However, the Rockets should be able to provide him with a better situation to develop, as he’ll be playing alongside established All-Stars and veterans as opposed to a team full of young talent and past-their-prime players.

Should Chriss improve, Morey will have another top trade asset in his arsenal and Houston could be in a position to add a real piece on the trade market.

Chriss, who is owed $3.2MM this season and has a team option on his deal for the 2019/20 season, can be dealt by the team right away, just not in a deal that aggregates his salary with another player. Those restrictions are removed two months after a trade, meaning when the calendar turns to November, Morey can attach Chriss to other players in a trade that brings back a larger salary.

There haven’t been any reports of Chriss being a trade candidate this season, though as we’ve seen with Morey, the wheels are always turning. It’s hard not to see the path that improves Chriss’ trade value early in the season and puts the Rockets in a place where they can yet again be major players on the trade market.

Western Notes: Lakers, Beyer, Grant, Morey

The Lakers front office felt they couldn’t fight fire with fire to overtake the Warriors, so their offseason acquisitions beyond LeBron James were aimed toward another approach, as Kevin Ding explains in an extensive piece posted on the team’s website. By signing Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley, the Lakers signaled that they want to rise to the top in a different way. “To try to play the Warriors in their own game is a trap,” GM Rob Pelinka told Ding. “No one is going to beat them at their own game. That’s why we wanted to add these elements: defense, toughness and depth—and try to look at areas where we’ll have an advantage.”

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Thunder have added Bob Beyer to Billy Donovan‘s coaching staff, according to a team press release. Beyer spent the last four seasons on Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons staff, serving as the associate head coach the past two seasons. His NBA coaching experience dates back to the 2003/04 season as an assistant with the Raptors.
  • Thunder forward Jerami Grant anticipates a bigger role during the upcoming season after signing a multi-year contract, as he told Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype in a Q&A session. Grant appeared in 81 games last season, averaging 8.4 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 20.3 MPG. He anticipates even more playing time with the departure of Carmelo Anthony. “I’m definitely excited to be able to play extensive minutes and play important minutes on a contender. Getting a chance to show what you can do while being part of an organization like this, being part of a team like this, it means a lot. They’ve shown a lot of trust in me by giving me this new contract and [and a bigger role].” Grant signed a three-year, $27MM contract to remain with OKC.
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey is just as curious as anyone how DeMarcus Cousins will fit in with the Warriors, as he told radio host Dan Patrick in comments relayed by NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman. “They’ll probably figure out how to make it work, but it’s a little bit hard on paper to figure out how to make it work. But we do that well and so do they, obviously. They’re gonna be a tough out again, obviously. They’re arguably the best team in NBA history,” Morey said.

Sixers Fail In Bid To Hire Daryl Morey as GM

JULY 17: Following up on his Monday report, Stein tweets that the Sixers sought and received permission to meet with Morey, but the Rockets GM decided to stay in his current situation.

JULY 16: The Sixers failed in an attempt to lure away Daryl Morey from the Rockets and take their GM job, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Philadelphia was keenly interested in Morey, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since he was recently voted the league’s Executive of the Year for the way he shaped Houston into a championship contender. A Sixers spokesman refused to give any details to Stein on their GM search (Twitter links).

The Sixers have been in the market for a top executive ever since Bryan Colangelo resigned under pressure over a Twitter burner accounts scandal in which inside information was divulged and negative comments were made about players, coaches, and former executive Sam Hinkie.

Head coach Brett Brown has been serving as the interim head of basketball operations since Colangelo’s resignation, making final decisions on the draft, trades and free agency.

Morey’s contact with the Rockets was extended last year through the 2021/22 season prior to the sale of the team, Stein notes. Morey, 45, has been the Rockets’ GM since May 2007, a year after he was hired by the organization as an assistant GM.

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Spurs, Morey, Gasol

Despite perhaps winning the 2018 NBA Draft with the selection of some pundits’ top-ranked player, Luka Doncic, Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram doesn’t see the Mavericks making the playoffs next season, writing that Dallas will likely end up picking in the NBA Draft Lottery for a second straight summer in 2019.

The projected lineup of Dennis Smith Jr., the aforementioned rookie Doncic, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and a center-to-be-named-later, while an improvement, is not enough to crack the top eight of Western Conference, in Engel’s opinion, even if that new center is potential free agent DeAndre Jordan or free-agent-to-be DeMarcus Cousins.

Despite the hype surrounding Doncic and his experience playing with professionals overseas, he will still be an NBA rookie next season, and as Mavericks’ president Donnie Nelson puts it, that means “he’s going to get his rear end handed to him.” Add in the fact that Smith Jr. is also still only 20 years old, and you’re left with one of the youngest – albeit most talented – backcourts in the NBA, which is probably not enough in the deep Western Conference.

There’s more from the Southwest Division.

  • With Danny Green choosing to opt in for the 2018/19 season, the Spurs are situated to be near the projected salary cap line of $101MM at the beginning of free agency, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Marks adds that in addition to renouncing free agents Tony Parker and Rudy Gay, the Spurs would also likely need to unload some heftier contracts like those belonging to Green and Pau Gasol in order to create cap room this summer.
  • Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey said the team wasn’t really close to making a deal to move up in last week’s NBA Draft, but that there was an opportunity to move into the No. 20 to No. 25 range.
  • Pau Gasol is doubtful that the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard can mend their relationship, telling EpDeportes, via Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone, “I do not know if the situation can be rectified after Kawhi’s request to leave, I do not know if a multi-million dollar offer would fix it, he has not talked to him for a long time, he’s a very reserved player.”